‘Any reason for living is an excellent reason for not dying’ (Steven Luper-Foy, 'Annihilation'). Some claims seem so clearly right that we don’t think to question them. Steven Luper-Foy’s remark is like that. It borders on the ‘trivially true’ (i.e. so obviously true as to be uninteresting). If I have a reason to live, surely I likewise have a reason not to die. It may then be surprising to learn that so many philosophers disagree with this claim—either directly or (...) by implication. I will look at some of the things people say that stand in opposition to Luper-Foy’s claim. I will also consider what is needed in order to agree with it. The views canvassed cover broad issues concerning life and death, and what matters to us with respect to both. (shrink)
As Kant claimed in the Groundwork, and as the idea has been developed by Korsgaard 1997, Bratman 1987, and Broome 2002. This formulation is agnostic on whether reasons for ends derive from our desiring those ends, or from the relation of those ends to things of independent value. However, desire-based theorists may deny, against Hubin 1999, that their theory is a combination of a principle of instrumental transmission and the principle that reasons for ends are provided by desires. (...) Instead, they may say, there is just one principle, a principle of, if you will, instrumental transmutation: if one desires the end, then one has reason to take the means. See the discussion of General Production, in section 8, for a doubt about this. (shrink)
There are various reasons why efforts to promote “support for self-management” have rarely delivered the kinds of sustainable improvements in healthcare experiences, health and wellbeing that policy leaders internationally have hoped for. This paper explains how the basis of failure is in some respects built into the ideas that underpin many of these efforts. When support for self-management is narrowly oriented towards educating and motivating patients to adopt the behaviours recommended for disease control, it implicitly reflects and perpetuates limited (...) and somewhat instrumental views of patients. It tends to: restrict the pursuit of respectful and enabling ‘partnership working’; run the risk of undermining patients’ self-evaluative attitudes ; limit recognition of the supportive value of clinician-patient relationships; and obscure the practical and ethical tensions that clinicians face in the delivery of support for self-management. We suggest that a focus on enabling people to live well with their long-term conditions is a promising starting point for a more adequate conception of support for self-management. We then outline the theoretical advantages that a capabilities approach to thinking about living well can bring to the development of an account of support for self-management, explaining, for example, how it can accommodate the range of what matters to people for living well, help keep the importance of disease control in perspective, recognize social influences on people’s values, behaviours and wellbeing, and illuminate more of the rich potential and practical and ethical challenges of supporting self-management in practice. (shrink)
According to Bernard Williams, attempts to justify a categorically binding impartial principle fail because they can only establish categorically binding requirements on action by making them non-universalizable , and can only establish impartial requirements by rendering them inapplicable to real agents . But, an individual cannot be the particular agent the individual is without being an agent every bit as much as an individual cannot be an agent without being the particular agent that the individual is. On this basis, it (...) is argued that, when the actual Gewirthian argument for a categorically binding impartial principle is presented, which Williams does not do, his objections to it do not hold and the argument establishes that agents are categorically bound to accept a substantive impartial principle that, at the same time, permits them to live lives that respect their own personal interests. Consequently, Williams’ dilemma is false. (shrink)
Identity, we're told, is the binary relation that every object bears to itself, and to itself only. But how can a relation be binary if it never relates two objects? This puzzled Russell and led Wittgenstein to declare that identity is not a relation between objects. The now standard view is that Wittgenstein's position is untenable, and that worries regarding the relational status of identity are the result of confusion. I argue that the rejection of identity as a binary relation (...) is perfectly tenable. To this end, I outline and defend a logical framework that is not committed to an objectual identity relation but is nevertheless expressively equivalent to first-order logic with identity. After it has thus been shown that there is no indispensability argument for objectual identity, I argue that we have good reasons for doubting the existence of such a relation, and rebut a number of attempts at discrediting these reasons. (shrink)
This paper examines and finds wanting the arguments against van Fraassen's voluntarism, the view that the only constraint of rationality is consistency. Foundationalists claim that if we have no grounds or rationale for a belief or rule, rationality demands that we suspend it. But that begs the question by assuming that there have to be grounds or a rationale. Instead of asking, why should we hold a basic belief or rule, the question has to be: why should not we be (...) committed as we are? Within a system we can sometimes find internal reasons. But, short of assuming foundationalism from the outset, when it comes to our evolving system as a whole there are no grounds for abandoning the commitments that we experience so strongly. Along the way the paper develops a systematic way of talking about terms that cause confusion because of variation in usage: foundationalism, relativism, basic beliefs and rules, voluntarism, etc. (shrink)
This paper defends a 'fitting attitudes' view of value on which what it is for something to be good is for there to be reasons to favour that thing. The first section of the paper defends a 'linking principle' connecting reasons and value. The second and third sections argue that this principle is better explained by a fitting-attitudes view than by 'value-first' views on which reasons are explained in terms of value.
In a much cited phrase in the famous English ‘Child B’ case, Mr Justice Laws intimated that in life and death cases of scarce resources it is not sufficient for health care decision-makers to ‘toll the bell of tight resources’: they must also explain the system of priorities they are using. Although overturned in the Court of Appeal, the important question remains of the extent to which health-care decision-makers have a duty to give reasons for their decisions. In this (...) paper, I examine the philosophical foundations of the legal obligation to give reasons in English law. Why are judges sometimes supportive of the imposition of a duty to give reasons and sometimes not? What is it about the context of life and death health care allocation problems that makes it unsuitable in their view for such a duty; and is this stance justified? What is it to give a reason for a decision? I examine Frederick Schauer’s account of reason-giving in terms of generalisation and commitment and I suggest that it provides an overstated account of what giving a reason commits one to. I go on to examine an idea of judicial creation: that where value judgements are “inexpressible” there is a strong reason not to impose a duty to give reasons on to public bodies. The strongest case for a duty to give reasons is in terms of the value of respect for citizens. I argue that there is nothing in the very nature of reason-giving that ought to preclude the imposition of such a duty in this context, but concede that there is a serious danger of legalism that could result in a hamstringing of health care decision-making. It is up to judges and lawyers to seek to avoid this danger. (shrink)
It has been argued that in a deterministic universe, no one has any reason to do anything. Since we ought to do what we have most reason to do, no one ought to do anything either. Firstly, it is argued that an agent cannot have reason to do anything unless she can do otherwise; secondly, that the relevant ‘can’ is incompatibilist. In this paper, I argue that even if the first step of the argument for reason incompatibilism succeeds, the second (...) one does not. It is argued that reasons require alternative possibilities, because reasons are action-guiding. A supposed reason to do the impossible, or to do what was inevitable anyway, could not fill this function. I discuss different interpretations of the claim that reasons are action-guiding, and show that according to one interpretation it is sufficient that the agent believes that she has several alternative options. According to other interpretations, the agent must really have alternative options, but only in a compatibilist sense. I suggest that an interpretation of action-guidance according to which reasons can only guide actions when we have several options open to us in an incompatibilist sense cannot be found. We should therefore assume that reasons and obligations are compatible with determinism. (shrink)
In this paper I grant the Humean premise that some reasons for action are grounded in the desires of the agents whose reasons they are. I then consider the question of the relation between the reasons and the desires that ground them. According to promotionalism , a desire that p grounds a reason to φ insofar as A’s φing helps promote p . According to motivationalism a desire that p grounds a reason to φ insofar as it (...) explains why, in certain circumstances, A would be motivated to φ. I then give an argument favouring motivationalism, namely that promotionalism entails that agents have reasons to perform physically impossible actions, whereas motivationalism entails that there are no such reasons. Although this is a version of the ‘Too Many Reasons’ objection to promotionalism, I show that existing responses to that problem do not transfer to the case of reasons to perform physically impossible actions. In the penultimate section I consider and reject some objections to motivationalism made by promotionalists. The conclusion is that Humeans about reasons for action should prefer motivationalism. (shrink)
Many meta-ethicists have thought that rationality requires us to heed apparent normative reasons, not objective normative reasons. But what are apparent reasons? There are two kinds of standard answers. On de dicto views, R is an apparent reason for S to \ when it appears to S that R is an objective reason to \ . On de re views, R is an apparent reason for S to \ when R’s truth would constitute an objective reason for (...) S to \ , and it appears to S that R. De re views are currently more popular because they avoid overintellectualizing rationality. But they face problems owing to the way in which they do so. Some assume that we can escape these problems by requiring more information to be apparent or by appealing to defeat. But these strategies fail. So, I defend a new view: apparent reasons are apparent facts that agents are competently attracted to treat like objective reasons, where competence is indirectly defined in terms of objective reasons and a competence/performance distinction is honored. Since one can treat X like an F without having the concept of an F, the view does not overintellectualize rationality. But it is also strong enough to dodge the pitfalls of de re views. (shrink)
In On What Matters Derek Parfit advocates the Kantian Contractualist Formula as one of three supreme moral principles. In important cases, this formula entails that it is wrong for an agent to act in a way that would be partially best. In contrast, Parfit’s wide value-based objective view of reasons entails that the agent often have sufficient reasons to perform such acts. It seems then that agents might have sufficient reasons to act wrongly. In this paper I (...) will argue that such reasons are a symptom of a fundamental inconsistency between the Kantian Contractualist Formula and Parfit’s view of reasons. The formula requires that we consider what everyone could rationally will, while a wide value-based objective view requires that we consider only what the agent has sufficient reasons for doing. The same inconsistency is particularly obvious in Parfit’s version of the Consent Principle, which share important features with the Kantian Contractualist Formula. Parfit accepts that moral principles might entail that we sometimes have sufficient reasons to act wrongly. However, to accept that supreme moral principles have such implications is objectionable if you, like Parfit, also hold that principles with such implications should be rejected or revised. I suggest that we could abandon the requirement that we have to consider the reasons of everyone. This would make the Kantian Contractualist Formula consistent with Parfit’s view of reasons, at least in this respect. I also argue that we can keep most implications of the Kantian Contractualist Formula that Parfit finds attractive. (shrink)
There is an unresolved conflict concerning the normative nature of desire. Some authors take rational desire to differ from rational belief in being a normatively unconstrained attitude. Others insist that rational desire seems plausibly subject to several consistency norms. This article argues that the correct analysis of this conflict of conative normativity leads us to acknowledge intrinsic and extrinsic reasons to desire. If sound, this point helps us to unveil a fundamental aspect of desire, namely, that we cannot desire (...) at will. Unlike belief, however, desire can unproblematically accommodate a notion of instrumental attitude. (shrink)
This paper examines the self-interested reasons that businesses can have for ethical behaviour. It distinguishes between economic and non-economic reasons and, among the latter, notes those connected with the self-esteem of managers. It offers a detailed typology of prudential reasons for ethical behaviour, laying particular stress on those to do with avoiding punishment by society for wrongdoing and, more particularly still, stresses the role of campaigning pressure groups within that particular category of reasons. It goes on (...) to suggest that because of their occupation of the moral high ground, campaigning groups are well placed to damage the self-esteem of managers and that this is why those groups seem able to exert an influence that goes beyond their somewhat limited capacity to inflict economic damage upon businesses. The paper concludes with the suggestion that we may be witnessing a virtuous spiral whereby rising public expectations of morality in business lead to ever increasing moral commitments by business that then cause those expectations to rise still further. (shrink)
Suppose you believe you ought to A. Would a failure of yours to A imply that you are not entirely as you ought to be? Ought you to A if you believe you to ought to A? This paper argues for a qualified version of this claim. It is qualified in two ways. First, I assume that this can be so only if ‘if you believe you ought to A’ appears within the scope of ‘you ought’. That is, you ought (...) to [if you believe you ought to A, then A.] Second, I argue that you ought to do as you believe you ought to only as far as it goes; that is, unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so. In this sense, we have a pro tanto reason to do, as we believe we ought to do. (shrink)
A state-based reason for one to intend to perform an action F is a reason for one to intend to F which is not a reason for one to F. Are there any state-based reasons to intend? According to the Explanatory Argument, the answer is no, because state-based reasons do not satisfy a certain explanatory constraint. I argue that whether or not the constraint is correct, the Explanatory Argument is unsound, because state-based reasons do satisfy the constraint. (...) The considerations that undermine the Explanatory Argument also generate a strong, positive case for the existence of state-based reasons to intend. (shrink)
A Philosophy to Live By highlights Murdoch's distinctive conception of philosophy as a spiritual or existential practice and enlists the resources of her thought to explore a wide range of thinkers and debates at the intersections of moral philosophy, religion, art, and politics.
In trying to distinguish the right kinds of reasons from the wrong, epistemologists often appeal to the connection to truth to explain why practical considerations cannot constitute reasons. The view they typically opt for is one on which only evidence can constitute a reason to believe. Talbot has shown that these approaches don’t exclude the possibility that there are non-evidential reasons for belief that can justify a belief without being evidence for that belief. He thinksthat there are (...) indeed such reasons and that they are theright kind of reasons to justify belief. The existence of such truth promoting non-epistemic reasons is said tofollow from the fact that we have an epistemic end that involves the attainment of true belief. I shall argue thatthere are no such reasons precisely because there is anepistemic end that has normative authority. (shrink)
B'Imagine that you could choose a book that everyone in the world would read. My choice would be this book.' Roger Crisp, Ethics -/- Many people have an uneasy feeling that they may be missing out on something basic that would give their lives a significance it currently lacks. But how should we live? What is there to stop us behaving selfishly? In a highly readable account which makes reference to a wide variety of sources and everyday issues, Peter (...) Singer suggests that the conventional pursuit of self- interest is individually and collectively self-defeating. Taking into consideration the beliefs of Jesus, Kant, Rousseau, and Adam Smith amongst others, he looks at a number of different cultures, including America, Japan, and the Aborigines to assess whether or not selfishness is in our genes and how we may find greater satisfaction in an ethical lifestyle. (shrink)
I imagine that people will complain that the account of normative concepts defended in Gibbard’s new book makes the metaethical waters even muddier because it blurs the line between cognitivism and noncognitivism and between realism and antirealism. However, these labels are philosophic tools, and in the wake of Gibbard’s new book, one might rightly conclude that there are new and better philosophical tools emerging on the metaethical scene. The uptake of views about practical reasoning—as exhibited by planning—into debates about the (...) (...) meaning of normative claims is a fruitful line of research. And, as Apt Feelings, Wise Choices made an initial bold step into novel and fruitful lines of research into the connection between psychology and morality, Thinking How to Live has also made an initial bold step into novel and fruitful lines of research into the connection between practical reasoning and normative semantics. (shrink)
The plurality of definitions of life is often perceived as an unsatisfying situation stemming from still incomplete knowledge about ‘what it is to live’ as well as from the existence of a variety of methods for reaching a definition. For many, such plurality is to be remedied and the search for a unique and fully satisfactory definition of life pursued. In this contribution on the contrary, it is argued that the existence of such a variety of definitions of life (...) undermines the very feasibility of ever reaching a unique unambiguous definition. It is argued that focusing on the definitions of specific types of ‘living systems’ – somehow in the same way that one can define specific types of ‘flying systems’ – could be more fruitful from a heuristic point of view than looking for ‘the’ right definition of life, and probably more accurate in terms of carving Nature at its joints. (shrink)
I consider if and how far it is possible to live an educational philosophical life, in the fast-changing, globalised world of Higher Education. I begin with Socrates’ account of a philosophical life in the Apology. I examine some tensions within different conceptions of what it is to do philosophy. I then go on to focus more closely on what it might be to live a philosophical, educational life in which educational processes and outcomes are influenced by philosophy, using (...) examples taken from published sources and from conversational interviews with philosophers carried out by myself with Kenneth Wain, Bas Levering and Richard Pring. I then outline the directions of current European policy for Higher Education. Finally I discuss how far current policies and trends leave room for doing philosophy of education, concluding that it is possible, but only for individuals who are very much in sympathy with current policy trends or who are creative in constructing smoke screens. (shrink)
In his major new book A.C. Grayling examines the different ways to live a good life, as proposed from classical antiquity to the recent present. Grayling focuses on the two very different conceptions of what a good life should be: one is a broadly secular view rooted in attitudes about human nature and the human condition; the other is a broadly transcendental view which locates the source of moral value outside the human realm. In the modern world - the (...) world shaped by the rise of science in the seventeenth century - these two views have come increasingly into conflict, and the constantly accumulating tension between them is one of the greatest problems faced by the twenty-first century. Using his renowned clarity of thought and philosophical rigour, AC Grayling has produced an invaluable guide through mankind's ethical struggle to live decently. (shrink)
It has been taken for granted that in western modernity we are dealing with a secularised world, an atheistic world where religion is no longer reigning the public sphere. In other words: a world where sense lies outside the world towards a world where sense is situated within it. If we follow the line of thought French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy sets out in his books The Sense of the World and Dis-Enclosure, we have to think world not as what has (...) its sense within itself, but as what is sense itself. To live in a secular world, means to live in a world which is sense, a world that has become responsible for itself but never closes in itself. Nancy, thereby inspired by Martin Heidegger, claims that in a secularised world it is no longer a question of whether the world has sense, but that the world is sense. If we want to be atheists today, Nancy concludes, we no longer have to do with the question, “why is there something in general?” but with the answer, “there is something, and that alone makes sense. (shrink)
This paper argues that the recent metaethical turn to reasons as the fundamental units of normativity offers no special advantage in explaining a variety of other normative and evaluative phenomena, unless perhaps a form of reductionism about reasons is adopted which is rejected by many of those who advocate turning to reasons.
2014 marked the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. This paper considers whether there are moral reasons to remember wars. It is argued that the most convincing reason for remembering wars is that they provide valuable lessons about human nature. The First World War elucidates several aspects of human nature, including our tribalism, sheepishness, drive for honour and over-confidence. Taking heed of these lessons may help avert future conflict.
Death is a bad thing by virtue of its ability to frustrate the subjectively valuable projects that shape our identities and render our lives meaningful. While the presumption that immortality would necessarily result in boredom worse than death proves unwarranted, if the constraint of mortality is a necessary element for virtues, relationships, and motivation to pursue our life-projects, then death might nevertheless be a necessary evil. Mortal or immortal, it’s clear that the value of one’s life depends on its subjectively (...) determined quality, rather than its quantity. Thus, it is imperative to live forever in the present, with flourishing always in mind. (shrink)
Written as a last, long posthumous letter to Jacques Derrida, the essay turns to the philosopher's last and, for the living, most important lesson – on ‘learning to live.’ In particular, it addresses – as constitutive of his unique ‘heterodidactics’ – two discrete communications on the subject. The first, in Spectres de Marx (1993), declares the lesson to be at once impossible and necessary, that is, ‘ethics itself’; in the second, the last interview ‘Je suis en guerre contre moi-même’ (...) published just before his death in 2004, Derrida confesses to ‘have remained uneducable’ on the subject. The essay reflects on the performative significance of this contradiction in the context of Derrida's intimacy with death, his taste for mourning, and his practice of writing as an experience of dying and resurrection. (shrink)
BackgroundAlthough some of the most radical hypothesis related to the practical implementations of human enhancement have yet to become even close to reality, the use of cognitive enhancers is a very tangible phenomenon occurring with increasing popularity in university campuses as well as in other contexts. It is now well documented that the use of cognitive enhancers is not only increasingly common in Western countries, but also gradually accepted as a normal procedure by the media as well. In fact, its (...) implementation is not unusual in various professional contexts and it has its peak in colleges. Even when certain restrictions in the legislation of a country are indeed in place, they are without doubts easy to overcome. The legitimacy and appropriateness of such restrictions will not be the focus of our investigation.DiscussionOur concern is instead related to the moral and social reasons to publicly acknowledge the use of cognitive enhancers in competitive-selective contexts. These reasons are linked to a more neutral analysis of contemporary Western society: it is a fact that an increasing number of competitive-selective contexts have a substantial number of contenders using cognitive enhancers.SummaryThrough the use of five explicative examples, in this paper we want to analyse the problems related to its use. In particular, it will be our aim to show the tension between one of the main argument used by bio-liberals and the actual implementation of the drugs in competitive, or semi-competitive contexts. (shrink)
Part One of this essay considered familiar ways of characterizing deontology, which focus on the notions of the good and the right. Here we will take up alternative approaches, which stress the type of reasons for actions that are generated by deontological theories. Although some of these alternative conceptualizations of deontology also employ a distinction between the good and the right, all mark the basic contrast between deontology and teleology in terms of reasons to act.
Allan Gibbard’s strategy in his new book is to begin by describing a psychology of thinking and planning that certain agents might instantiate, then to argue that this psychology involves an ‘expressivism’ about thought that bears on what to do, and, ﬁnally, to try to show that ascribing that same psychology to human beings would explain the way we deploy various concepts in practical and normative deliberation. The idea is to construct an imaginary normative psychology, purportedly conforming to expressivist speciﬁcations, (...) and then to campaign for the hypothesis that that psychology is ours and that we ourselves conform to those speciﬁcations. The upshot is an original and intriguing argument for the claim that ‘expressivism’, as Gibbard understands it, is sound. There is more in the book than that bare argument. Filling out the strategy pursued, for example, the volume contains useful discussions of a number of current debates (chs 2, 12), an enlightening argument that the strategy survives the introduction of the notion that a concept can have a character distinct from its content (ch. 6), and an extended set of reﬂections on how far the point of view defended leaves room for the idea of gaining normative knowledge (pt. 4). But I shall ignore those aspects of the book in this commentary; the focus is on its central argument. My approach will be to reconstuct the main stages in the Aufbau of our normative psychology that Gibbard provides, emphasizing some crucial points that are passed over rather quickly, and then to suggest on the basis of this reconstruction that the more natural lesson to derive is not an expressivist one. Although I break with Gibbard in that way, however, I have great admiration for the book. Thinking How to Live is a sharp, fresh and invigorating treatment of the main issues of metaethics. (shrink)
It is frequently claimed that the human mind is organized in a modular fashion, a hypothesis linked historically, though not inevitably, to the claim that many aspects of the human mind are innately specified. A specific instance of this line of thought is the proposal of an innately specified geometric module for human reorientation. From a massive modularity position, the reorientation module would be one of a large number that organized the mind. From the core knowledge position, the reorientation module (...) is one of five innate and encapsulated modules that can later be supplemented by use of human language. In this paper, we marshall five lines of evidence that cast doubt on the geometric module hypothesis, unfolded in a series of reasons: (1) Language does not play a necessary role in the integration of feature and geometric cues, although it can be helpful. (2) A model of reorientation requires flexibility to explain variable phenomena. (3) Experience matters over short and long periods. (4) Features are used for true reorientation. (5) The nature of geometric information is not as yet clearly specified. In the final section, we review recent theoretical approaches to the known reorientation phenomena. (shrink)
Allan Gibbard’s strategy in his new book is to begin by describing a psychology of thinking and planning that certain agents might instantiate, then to argue that this psychology involves an ‘expressivism’ about thought that bears on what to do, and, finally, to try to show that ascribing that same psychology to human beings would explain the way we deploy various concepts in practical and normative deliberation. The idea is to construct an imaginary normative psychology, purportedly conforming to expressivist specifications, (...) and then to campaign for the hypothesis that that psychology is ours and that we ourselves conform to those specifications. The upshot is an original and intriguing argument for the claim that ‘expressivism’, as Gibbard understands it, is sound. There is more in the book than that bare argument. Filling out the strategy pursued, for example, the volume contains useful discussions of a number of current debates (chs 2, 12), an enlightening argument that the strategy survives the introduction of the notion that a concept can have a character distinct from its content (ch. 6), and an extended set of reflections on how far the point of view defended leaves room for the idea of gaining normative knowledge (pt. 4). But I shall ignore those aspects of the book in this commentary; the focus is on its central argument. My approach will be to reconstuct the main stages in the Aufbau of our normative psychology that Gibbard provides, emphasizing some crucial points that are passed over rather quickly, and then to suggest on the basis of this reconstruction that the more natural lesson to derive is not an expressivist one. Although I break with Gibbard in that way, however, I have great admiration for the book. Thinking How to Live is a sharp, fresh and invigorating treatment of the main issues of metaethics. (shrink)
Early on in Specters of Marx, the first sentence in Exordium reads: ‘Someone, you or me, comes forward and says: I would like to learn to live finally’. In the last paragraph of the last chapter, Derrida gives the injunction: ‘If he loves justice at least, the “scholar” of the future, the “intellectual” of tomorrow should learn it and from the ghost’. The ghost is the gift Derrida leaves us, yet, what can ghosts teach us about justice and how (...) may we (dare we) learn from them? Derrida invokes Levinas's name for the only time in Specters of Marx, with the line ‘The relation to others – that is to say, justice, writes Levinas’. From ‘Violence and Metaphysics’ to ‘At This Very Moment in This Work Here I Am’, the spectral relation between Derrida and Levinas already performs spectral justice. How do we say ‘J'accepte’ to spectral justice – justice that we cannot rightly possess? The figure and logic of the ghost serve not merely rhetorical purposes but, in its non-presence and presence, the ghost becomes the trace of the justice that we can neither own nor disown, but need to learn to live with, even if, in politics and in life, the fear of ghosts remains. (shrink)
Public streets are central to the built environment, where individuals seek a fair share of the roadway’s benefits and harms. But the American street, an asphalt landscape typically defined and designed for cars, can be inaccessible, unhealthy, and dangerous for the non-motorized, whose transportation choices have the smallest ecological footprint. Concern for social equity and sustainability requires rethinking the street geographically and ethically, and asking: “In what sense is the street a space of justice? How do traditional street regulation and (...) design manifest ethical priorities? And what might a more just street look like, in theory and practice?” Such questions prompt one to engage both the spatial and moral, thus drawing from critical geography and ethics to analyze roadways in terms of fairness and relational wholeness, and argue for what might be called a shalom street. Engaging such ethical concepts with the technical vocabularies of street regulation and design requires analyzing how national model standards and their interpretation enforce and materialize justice on the street.The promise of more just alternatives such as more sustainable and fair “Complete Streets” to live in needs to be explored. (shrink)
In the ninth fragment of his posthumous work Living Up to Death , Paul Ricoeur reflects on Jacques Derrida’s final interview given to the French newspaper Le Monde just months prior to his death. Although he confesses to a genuine distanciation from Derrida regarding salient aspects of their individual memento mori , he does so within the context of significant concessions of agreement. I argue in this article that their differing positions de facto agree at a critical structural level with (...) reference to the possibility of positing something akin to a textual immortality. Both contend that traces of the author remain in the corpus of a work, a remainder that allows for a form of resurrection through reading. By analogizing their perspectives with Rudolf Bultmann’s kerygmatic resurrection of Christ in the proclaimed word, I conclude that Ricoeur and Derrida contend that one truly learns to live up to death ‘ finally ’, that is, enfin — ‘at last’, ‘after all’, or one might say, ‘ in a word ’. (shrink)
Adults without the capacity to make their own medical decisions have their rights protected under the Mental Capacity Act in the UK. The underlying principle of the court's decisions is the best interests test, and the evaluation of best interests is a welfare appraisal. Although the House of Lords in the well-known case of Bland held that the decision to withhold treatment for patients in a persistent vegetative state should not be based on their best interests, judges in recent cases (...) have still held that the best interests of persistently vegetative patients demand that the right to die with dignity prevails over society's interest to preserve life. The basis of suggesting that it is in the best interests for one who is alive in peace to die in peace is weak. Even if it may not be in their best interests to live on, it may not be so to die either. The phrase ‘the right to dignity/to die with dignity’ has been misused as a trump card to justify the speculation that a vegetative patient would necessarily refuse to live on machines. Without disrespect to the court's decision, we argue that the use of the best interests test to authorise withdrawing/withholding treatment from persistently vegetative patients without an advance directive is problematic. We propose that the court could have reached the same decision by considering only the futility of treatment without working through the controversial best interests of the patient. (shrink)
In this paper and the next I discuss Peter Singer’s approach to answering the question of how one ought to live with nonhuman animals. In the first paper I situate Singer’s work within the larger historical context of moral concern for animals, looking at previous public consensus on the issue, its breakdown and its re-emergence with Singer in the 1970s. In the second paper, I take a closer look at Singer’s highly influential book, Animal Liberation , and argue that (...) as activist literature, his chapter on animal experimentation for example can be seen as morally persuasive in ways other than simply as an example of of speciesism. How I do this is to place Singer’s work side by side that of 19th century activist Francis Power Cobbe’s, in particular her pamphlet Light in Dark Places , and examine their work against the criticisms from scientists defending the practice of animal experimentation. (shrink)
This essay raises a philosophical question concerning the language of Life Theory. It aims to prove the assumption that in contrast to Life Science, which today is connected to neuroscience and biotechnology, a theory that comprehends “life itself” must exceed the computerized mathematics of modern materialistic positivism. For this purpose, the conceptual possibility of such a theory is analysed from the perspective of 20th century philosophy of life. Beginning with Henri Bergson, who developed an immanent concept of life“from within itself” (...) in L’évolution créatrice , the analysis turns to Alain Badiou, whose fundamental onto-phenomenology of being is summed up in Logiques des mondes by answering the question “what is it to live”. The comparison between the two philosophies exposes the conditions of a Life Theory that encompasses, beyond the results of the digitalizable language translated from the neurons of the human brain, the uncountable and unpredictable aspects of living and being alive. These conditions are: an ethics of universality, a differential philosophy of time, and a concept of independent novelty enforced by the aesthetics of subjective creation. (shrink)
This paper describes an argumentative fallacy we call ‘Retroductive Analogy.’ It occurs when the ability of a favored hypothesis to explain some phenomena, together with the fact that hypotheses of a similar sort are well supported, is taken to be sufficient evidence to accept the hypothesis. This fallacy derives from the retroductive or abductive form of reasoning described by Charles Sanders Peirce. According to Peirce’s account, retroduction can provide good reasons to pursue a hypothesis but does not, by itself, (...) provide good reasons to believe the hypothesis. In successful applications of retroduction, pursuit leads to the accumulation of evidence. In retroductive analogy, comparison with other successful hypotheses is substituted for the genuine pursuit of evidence. We describe a case from ecological genetics in which retroduction plays a legitimate role as the initial phase of an ongoing research program that serves to accumulate genuine evidence for a hypothesis. We also examine two contexts in which the fallacy of retroductive analogy occurs: in defenses of Intelligent Design Theory and in defense of some hypotheses in Evolutionary Psychology. (shrink)
Cardiovascular health checks test risk factors for cardiovascular disease. They are offered to improve health: in case of an increased risk, participants receive lifestyle advice and medication. With this review, we investigate what is known about the reasons why people do or do not test for CVD risk factors. To what extent do these reasons relate to health monitoring and/or improvement? And do reasons differ in different contexts in which health checks are offered? We conducted a literature (...) search and included 22 papers in which we identified a broad range of motives. We conclude that people have reasons to test related to health improvement and reasons other than health improvement, practical reasons related to the way health checks are offered play an important role and motives should be understood in the context of the situation in which health checks are offered. Our results are relevant for public health officials and providers of health checks: first, if people undergo testing for reasons unrelated to health, this could explain why participation in health checks does not necessarily lead to health improvement. Second, efforts to improve uptake not necessarily serve justice and may hamper informed consent. (shrink)
Unveiling the Past—Preparing the Conditions for Human Beings to Live in the Midst of One Another Again? A Response From Living in Northern Ireland Content Type Journal Article Category Symposium Pages 333-335 DOI 10.1007/s11673-011-9334-y Authors Derick Wilson, University of Ulster, School of Education, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, BT52 1SA UK Journal Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Online ISSN 1872-4353 Print ISSN 1176-7529 Journal Volume Volume 8 Journal Issue Volume 8, Number 4.
Viver de forma autônoma, em paz e em harmonia ainda é um estorvo para os seres humanos. O documento Learning to live together in peace and harmony, publicação conjunta da UNESCO-APNIEVE, retrata essa dificuldade e expressa os desafios políticos, econômicos, sociais, étnicos e culturais que os habitantes da região Ásia-Pacífico enfrentam para aprender a viver de maneira autônoma, pacífica e harmoniosa. O documento defende que o caminho para esse processo é mudar o modelo vigente, voltado para criar uma força (...) de trabalho qualificada, para uma concepção de Educação voltada para a formação humana, para o desenvolvimento da pessoa por inteiro. A Educação é aqui concebida a partir da totalidade das dimensões humanas e deve facultar ao educando a compreensão de sua realidade interior e da realidade dos seus arredores, aguçando a sua capacidade para se autodeterminar, ser autônomo e expressar as suas potencialidades. A Educação integral deve ofertar ao aprendiz caminhos por meio dos quais ele possa pouco a pouco entrar em contato com as inúmeras facetas das suas dimensões, de modo que o processo formativo direcione o indivíduo para uma forma de viver equilibrada com ele mesmo, com os outros seres vivos e com a natureza. A Educação como processo de formação humana deve permitir o desenvolvimento de um modo de ser e de viver direcionado para a humanização do homem. A proposta advoga a ideia que os indivíduos e a sociedade devem dar prioridade ao desenvolvimento pessoal e social a partir de quatro valores fundamentais: paz, direitos humanos, democracia e desenvolvimento sustentável. O objetivo deste artigo é refletir sobre o documento Learning to live together in peace and harmony como o ponto de partida para o processo formativo-educacional do ser humano. Palavras-chave: Formação humana. Educação. Educação integral. Autonomia. Unesco-Apnieve. (shrink)
Prospective parents centainly ought to avoid creating a child whose life would be so terrible that no one should have to live it. However, those who sought to avoid it would risk making a serious moral error, if their reasoning did follow a certain pattern.The error would be failure to respect autonomy, which includes a claim to judge for oneself whether one's life is worth living. I explain how this applies to a decision about whether someone is to exist (...) at all, and what difference it would make if prospective parents paid autonomy the respect it merits. (shrink)
If imagination is guided by the same principles as rational thoughts, then we ought not to stop at the way people make inferences to get insights about the workings of imagination; we ought to consider as well the way they make rational choices. This broader approach accounts for the puzzling effect of reasons to act on the mutability of actions.
Recent theoretical analyses of domestic violence have posited the complicity of medical communities in erasing and obfuscating the cause of injuries. Although medical cultures have engaged in progressive initiatives to address and treat domestic violence, these medical and clinical models can render domestic violence invisible by framing the battered woman as evidentiary object. By analyzing this invisibility of domestic violence through the concept of public secrecy, in this article I consider Kiki Smith's 1982 installation piece Life Wants to Live. (...) Using medical technologies, Smith's installation offers the viewer a vision of domestic violence that recognizes its inherently problematic invisibility and emphasizes the importance of lived, bodily experience. (shrink)
We anticipate a further decline of patients who eventually will become brain dead. The intensive care unit (ICU) is considered a last resort for patients with severe and multiple organ dysfunction. Patients with primary central nervous system failure constitute the largest group of patients in which life-sustaining treatment is withdrawn. Almost all these patients are unconscious at the moment physicians decide to withhold and withdraw life-sustaining measures. Sometimes, however competent ICU patients state that they do not want to live (...) anymore because of the severity of their illness or the poor prognosis and ask for withdrawal of life-sustaining measures like mechanical ventilation. Do we consider the unconscious patient as potential organ donor before withdrawal of mechanical ventilation? This is paradoxically rare in the case of the conscious ICU patient. Is it practically possible and ethically feasible to obtain consent for organ donation from this group of patients? (shrink)